​​BIOGRIP Post Docs

Heleen Vos

I grew up in the Netherlands and studied Earth Sciences at the Vrije University Amsterdam. After obtaining my master's degree in Geology, I did a traineeship at the European Space Agency and then enrolled for a PhD in Basel, Switzerland. For my PhD project, I investigated dust emission from croplands in the Free State, South Africa. Since January 2023, I joined Stellenbosch University for a Post-doc under the supervision of Dr Susanne Fietz in the Earth Science Department.

BIOGRIP Research project

My research project focusses on the Saldanha Bay area, a region that is known for dust emissions related to iron and magnesium ore processing and transport. Our goal is to create a better understanding of the sources and the chemical content of dust, and the concentration of suspended particles in habituated areas. With this information, an assessment of the effects of dust on public health can be made and possible mitigation processes can be developed.

Project title: Dust composition and impacts on the environment and human health.

Contact details: heleenvos@sun.ac.za

Saumik Samanta


I am an Environmental Geochemist and have been working on the cycling of trace metals and their isotopes in different reservoirs (ocean, estuary, atmosphere) to obtain a better understanding of the ​earth's surface processes (environmental pollution, oceanic phytoplankton bloom, and role of trace metals, carbon sequestration) in a changing climate. I am working as a postdoctoral researcher at Stellenbosch University since 2018. I completed my PhD in 2017 at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata, where I worked on the cycling of nutrients and elements in the Ganga River estuary. During my research career, I earned skills in different sectors of Environmental research and its advancement including onboard trace metal free sampling of seawater (Southern and Indian oceans), river and estuary waters, Antarctic ice and snow, aerosols, zooplanktons, post processing in ultraclean class 100 laboratories both in land and on-board. I am also trained to perform different analytical experiments and setting up methodologies for measuring inorganic species of environmental samples using highly sophisticated instruments (Quadrupole ICP-MS, ESI seaFAST MC, Ion Chromatography).

BIOGRIP Research project

My current research area focuses on the cycling of geochemical tracers in different environmental systems in the face of the climate change, which includes (1) emissions of toxic metals (Pb) from coal-dependent developing countries and its impact on the ocean chemistry, (2) cycling of bioreactive trace metals in the Southern Ocean marginal ice zone and its linkages to the phytoplankton bloom and CO2 drawdown, investigating (3) Benguela biogeochemistry and (4) Marine biogeochemistry and future climate changes.

Project title: Southern Ocean trace metal - phytoplankton interaction in the Southern Ocean

Contact details: 22505709@sun.ac.za

Wendy Stone


I obtained a PhD at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada, in Environmental and Applied Science Management. I specialised in Environmental Microbiology and studied the impact of microbes on sulphide corrosion in deep geological repositories, informing the integrity of the long-term storage of nuclear waste.


The urban waste cycle and environmental health are the research areas I pursue most deeply, with expertise in chemical and microbiological analyses of soil, water, plants and surface-air interfaces. This includes water and wastewater analysis, land application of sewage sludge for agricultural productivity, the microbial health of the built environment, and exploring probiotic philosophy. I am particularly interested in the leap from fundamental to applied science, and in relationship-building between governmental, academic and private sectors


Our current work explores the agricultural risks and benefits when applying sludge wastes to land for crop growth in nutrient-poor sandy soils in the Western Cape.

Contact details: wstone@sun.ac.za